Washington Represented in Senate/Congress

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by UKnjb, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. UKnjb macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

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    #1
    Excuse me everybody, but I'm bored and although I could maybe find this information on Google or something, I would rather ask you guys! Get more of an all-round view? I have looked in one of my books ("Parliament/Congress" by Bradshaw and Pring, but no mention). If that's OK, I heard on the BBC radio here in the UK the other day that "Washington, the home of American democracy was unique in that it did not have an elected representative in the Senate (or Congress)".

    Is that true? And is there any historical or practical reason for it if it is true? Seems strange that it may be excluded.
     
  2. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #2
    it's true. they have a person that kind of represents the city to the congress... eleanor holmes norton.. but ultimately, a lot of the city's budget/spending is determined by congress, which the city actually has no vote in. it's pretty messed up and i'm sure someone far smarter than i will explain it better.

    fyi, the dc license plates say "taxation without representation" on them. pretty sweet
     
  3. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #3
    The argument is that they are a federal district and thus do not enjoy the status of a state (remember that the United States is a republic consisting of many (until the Civil War) highly independent states). Because of that, they are not entitled to representation in the legislature or executive. This is similar to the status of Puerto Rico. However, because of amendment to the Consitution, they do enjoy three electoral votes. Additionally, they have a non-voting delegate in the congress (currently Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton).

    There has been a push to grant DC voting rights, but there has been much debate as to how it will be conducted. Some argue that DC should be given statehood and thus full rights. Others propose to excise the federal land in DC and retain that as the federal city while the rest of DC becomes a state. Another group has proposed that the excised populace should be given back to Maryland - but the people of Maryland tend to oppose this as it would bring in a heavy burden to the state with not much revenue (too much Marion Barry and Sharon Pratt Kelly). Another group points out that they enjoy the right to vote for representatives to both houses by virtue of the statute that established DC, which allowed residents to retain voting privileges in the state that ceded the territory (MD/VA, later the VA land was returned). This would lead to DC residents foring for MD senators and require redistricting MD's Reps.

    In all, it is a total mess. While I believe that DC residents have been screwed with their being taxed without representation (the same thing we beat on the British for), I think that the ideal solution may be to excise the city into a state. The only risk is that the people of DC have been prone to bad decisions with their mayors. They tend to vote for the most promises rather than quality. They have struggled in their limited periods of home rule (when Home rule is extant the city runs everything, when not the Congress has legislative authority - usually there is a mix). Services are poor and administration is ineffective. As bad as Congress is, I think that the City Council is even worse. For the good of the people, I hope that someday they get quality leadership (Tony Williams is bad, but made ineffectual by the City Council and people who don't realize that to provide services you need money that comes only when businesses want to come to your town).

    For more info, I believe http://www.dcvote.org is/was a good place to go (I haven't been there in ages, and am too lazy to verify). But, don't get your hopes up. I tried to work with them and they are horrid with responding to requests.

    EDIT: the licence plate is available, but not on the standard. they also attempted to modify the city flag (three red stars over two red stripes on a field of white) with the phrase on the stripes, but Congress threatened to kill the change.
     
  4. UKnjb thread starter macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

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    #4
    Thank you both for your reply. Interesting!

    I have gone to the link that nbs2 supplied and found a page on that site that describes the history of how Washington is where it is at. It does seem very strange, and an anachronism, for this state of affairs to continue.

    Does it bother the rest of the USA, or is it seen as an entirely local difficulty?
     
  5. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #5
    Generally, it doesn't bother anybody. That is actually much of the reason for the tags and the attempt to chenge the flag - recognition of the problem. So, I guess it isn't that it doesn't bother people, so much as nobody knows of the problem. Even for pol sci types, it isn't something striking unless you think about it. You get so used to 50 states/100 Senators, I guess you forget Americans live in DC.

    Oh, Norton is elected, so technically she is an elected member of Congress. :)
     
  6. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #6

    The fact that the majority of the residents of DC are black and tend to vote for the Democratic party tells you all you need to know about why the Republican Party will not allow statehood. Two new Democratic senators just might hold the balance of power in the senate in their hands and we can't have that august body disturbed by more black senators, could we? It is more than an anachronism left from a bygone era, the lack of democracy for more citizens than the state of Wyoming is part of the continuing contradictions in our professed beliefs in democracy and the reality of many convenient exceptions when it doesn't benefit those in power. In short, it bothers a lot of people, but because of the stranglehold of conservatives nothing can be done about it.
     
  7. UKnjb thread starter macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

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    #7
    Oh!! But when the Democrats are in/get back in power, why could it not be changed then? Is there no inherent interest in getting the balance of power actually balanced? I might be getting confused again :confused: And am certainly confused by your introduction of Wyoming!!!! If I am being ignroant and thick on all of this, is there a good 'USA Politics for Dummies' that you will address all of my basics? As I wrote earlier, the only book I have is "Parliament/Congress", and that is a comparison between the two systems of our two countries.

    Thanks for replying - this is all interesting stuff. :)
     
  8. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #8
    Because the argument has always been that the US Constitution would have to be amended to allow DC statehood. In Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 the power over a federal district is vested in the hands of the Congress.
    US Constitution

    If this path must be followed it would also take two-thirds of each house of Congress and 38 of the present 50 state legislatures to allow it to happen. You can see how the Republicans have been able to deny statehood even when the Democrats have been in the majority.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    The District has been denied fair representation under the rule of every party from time zero, so I don't think it's entirely fair to lay this issue on any party's doorstep. I think congresses of all political persuasions have enjoyed their overlord relationship with the population of the District and have been loathe to give it up.
     
  10. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #10
    There are two senators for every state so that means the states with small populations like Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, have an undue amount of influence in the Senate. I believe each of the above states only has 1 member in the House of Representatives. The Senate is by far the most powerful of the two.

    The five states listed above have about 4 million residents altogether. That is about 1.5% of the population of the US So, 10 senators represent only 1.5 % of the population but have 10% of the vote in the Senate. California has 13% of the population of the US but only 2% of the vote in the Senate.

    The actual level of influence varies to a great degree but small states can have an awful lot of power in the federal government while large states can be marginalized.
     
  11. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #11
    I should add to Ugg's statement, the reason I brought up the state of Wyoming is that it has a smaller population than DC. In the 2000 census, DC had a population of 572,059 while Wyoming had a population of 493,782. So the argument can't be made that the relatively small number of people in DC make it ineligible for statehood.

    IJ's observations are important as well. It wasn't always the Republicans that were the main block to DC statehood. In the days before the civil rights movement and Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" it was southern Democratic Legislators who were the main block to voting rights both in the District and throughout much of the nation. Today, the blame for the denial of basic representation rests solely with the conservative Republican Party.
     
  12. UKnjb thread starter macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

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    #12
    Hi.
    Just come back in from a night out and picked up these replies. Thanks again for the fascinating reads. But I regret that my confusion grows with increasing information. Rather than waste you good folks' time, I would so appreciate it if you could provide the title of a primer for me so that I can maybe come back with something sensible? What do your 12-15 year olds get given to read that spells out how your government works? Or how did you acquire your own knowledge of the system?
    Have a good weekend!
     
  13. OnceUGoMac macrumors 6502a

    OnceUGoMac

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    #13

    It's the U.S. We don't teach kids those kind of things.:D
     
  14. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #14
    I wouldn't recommend any civics textbook from my days as a 12-15 year old. A quick google gives these as interesting sites that might help:

    The Constitution Explained a site with lots of links and explanations of obscure parts of our Constitution.

    Civics Flash Cards a site of materials used for those applying for citizenship.

    hope this is helpful.
     

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